Live Poker Rooms In Germany?

Live Poker Rooms In Germany

  • Casino Schenefeld. View Live Info.13 Tables. Hamburg.
  • Casino Aachen. Favorite.5 Tables. Bonn.
  • Casino Bad Dürkheim. Favorite.3 Tables.
  • Casino Bad Füssing. Favorite.2 Tables.
  • Casino Bad Homburg. Favorite.5 Tables.
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Are there poker rooms in Germany?

Live poker in Germany: What is allowed, and what isn’t? – In Germany, only state casinos are allowed to host poker cash games or tournaments. All sorts of real-money gambling poker outside of casinos (like home games, card clubs, etc.) is forbidden, and police raids of underground games are not unheard of.

  • There are however a few exceptions: playing for very small stakes in home games is not prosecuted, and sometimes it is also possible to find particular tournaments allowed to be organized by non-state casino hosts.
  • On Jan.27, 2014, the German Federal Administrative Court ruled that tournaments with very low buy ins (around €15) do not constitute illegal gambling.

This law applies so long as the buy-ins are mainly used to cover the costs of the event and are not redistributed among the players. Despite the fact it does not refer to events with significant figures, the ruling was widely welcome by Germany’s poker community as the country has a rather vivid scene of those very low buy-in tournaments.
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Is it legal to play poker in Germany?

Gambling Laws and Regulations Report 2023 Germany 1.1 Which entities regulate what type of gambling and social/skill gaming activity in your jurisdiction?

Relevant Product Who regulates it in digital form? Who regulates it in land-based form?
Gaming Casino gaming (including slots and casino table games such as roulette & blackjack) The new Interstate Treaty on Gambling 2021 (the “Interstate Treaty”), which came into force on 1 July 2021, distinguishes between “online casino games”, including roulette, blackjack and baccarat (defined as “a virtual replication of bank-holder games and live broadcasts of a terrestrial bank-holder game with the possibility of participation via the internet”), and “virtual slot machine games” (“a virtual slot machine game is a replication of land-based slot machine games offered on the internet”). For the first time, operators may apply for a licence to offer virtual slot machine games. As of 1 January 2023, the new Joint Gambling Authority of the federal states will be responsible for the regulation and monitoring of virtual slot machine games. Regarding online casino games, the Interstate Treaty 2021 gives each federal state the choice of whether to impose a state monopoly or issue a very limited number of licences to private operators. Bricks-and-mortar casinos are regulated under state laws, not federal law, and the Ministry/Senate of the Interior of the respective state will, in general, be the authority responsible for licensing and supervision.
Poker The Interstate Treaty 2021 also introduces a licencing system for online poker. As of 1 January 2023, operators can apply for a licence for online poker with the Joint Gambling Authority, based in Saxony-Anhalt. Until that date, the State Administration Office of Saxony-Anhalt is and has been responsible for licensing of such games alongside virtual slot machine games. Poker is permitted, in most of the German states, in state-owned casinos and regulated by the Ministry/Senate of the Interior of the respective state. In Saxony and Baden-Wuerttemberg, poker is not expressly mentioned, but will be approved when presenting an adequate gaming concept when applying for a licence, and is therefore not excluded.
Bingo Since bingo is generally considered a lottery product, it is subject to the state monopoly and thus regulated as detailed below (Lotteries). Since bingo is generally considered a lottery product, it is subject to the state monopoly and thus regulated as detailed below (Lotteries).
Betting Betting The Interstate Treaty provides for sports betting licensing. Other forms of betting (with the exception of horse race betting; see below), in particular social/financial betting or betting on virtual sports, are not permissible. At the time of writing, regulators had not concluded whether betting on e-sports can be considered betting on sports. As of 1 January 2023, the new Joint Gambling Authority in Saxony-Anhalt will be responsible for sports/horse race betting licences. Up until then, the responsibility lies with the Regional Council in Darmstadt, Hesse. The Joint Gambling Authority is also responsible for regulating land-based sports betting at operator level. Betting shop licences have to be applied for at state level with the locally responsible regulator.
Sports/horse race betting (if regulated separately to other forms of betting) The new Joint Gambling Authority in Saxony-Anhalt is going to be responsible for licensing and supervision of online horse race betting as of 1 January 2023. The Joint Gambling Authority is also going to be responsible for the licensing of land-based horse race betting.
Fantasy betting (payment to back a ‘league’ or ‘portfolio’ selection over a period of time, for example in relation to sport or shares) The classification of fantasy betting as game of skill or game of chance depends on the specific circumstances and the mechanics of the game in question. There is no specific authority responsible for fantasy betting matters. The classification of fantasy betting as game of skill or game of chance depends on the specific circumstances and the mechanics of the game in question. There is no specific authority responsible for fantasy betting matters.
Lotteries Lotteries Either the Ministries of the Interior or Regional Council authorities are the authorities responsible for licensing and supervision of their local state lottery company. The same applies to brokers of state lottery products, which can be privately owned entities, unless they operate in multiple German states, where the gambling regulator of Rhineland-Palatinate is the authority responsible for nationwide licensing and supervision. As of 2023, the new Joint Gambling Authority in Saxony-Anhalt will be responsible for licensing across Germany. Either the Ministries of the Interior or Regional Council authorities are the authorities responsible for licensing and supervision of their local state lottery company. The same applies to brokers of state lottery products, which can be privately owned entities, unless they operate in multiple German states, where the gambling regulator of Rhineland-Palatinate is the authority responsible for nationwide licensing and supervision. As of 2023, the new Joint Gambling Authority in Saxony-Anhalt will be responsible for licensing across Germany.
Social/Skill arrangements “Social” gaming with no prize in money or money’s worth “Social” gaming does not fall under the definition of games of chance and, hence, lacks specific regulation. As an exception, the Interstate Treaty restricts offering free play versions of virtual slot machine games if they are offered on the same website as the virtual slots. To that extent, such free play versions are subject to the supervision of the Saxony-Anhalt regulator. “Social” gaming does not fall under the definition of games of chance and, hence, lacks specific regulation. As an exception, the Interstate Treaty restricts offering free play versions of virtual slot games if they are offered on the same website as the virtual slots. To that extent, such free play versions are subject to the supervision of the Saxony-Anhalt regulator.
Skill games and competitions with no element of chance Skill games and competitions with no element of chance do not fall under the definition of games of chance and hence are not affected by gambling regulation. Skill games and competitions with no element of chance do not fall under the definition of games of chance and hence are not affected by gambling regulation.

1.2 Specify: (i) the law and regulation that applies to the Relevant Products in your jurisdiction; and (ii) – in broad terms – whether it permits or prohibits the offer of Relevant Products to persons located in your jurisdiction. Games of chance are defined as games where payment of consideration is required in order to acquire a chance to win and the determination of winnings is entirely or predominantly a matter of chance.

  1. Any gambling activity falling within this definition is subject to specific gambling legislation.
  2. The Interstate Treaty sets out the main objectives of gambling regulation and provides for a state monopoly on operating lotteries, the licensure of sports betting, virtual slot games, online poker and potentially of online casino games.

The Interstate Treaty is implemented by specific state legislation, i.e. the Gaming Act or Implementation Act to the Interstate Treaty of each federal state. The German Criminal Code penalises the operation and advertising of unauthorised games of chance, i.e.

if they are operated without a licence. The federal Anti-Money Laundering (“AML”) Act stipulates specific AML requirements to land-based and online operators of games of chance. Casino gambling (bricks-and-mortar) is considered a matter of state law, not federal law, and is primarily regulated by the various Casino Acts and the Gaming/Casino Ordinances of the states.

The Casino Acts usually distinguish between table games (e.g. roulette and card games) and slot machine gaming. Although subject to controversy, the majority of German courts have so far regarded poker as a game of chance and not a game of skill. Therefore, offline poker is only permitted in state-owned casinos.

Online casino gambling : While the Interstate Treaty provides for a licensing system for virtual slot machine games, it remains to be seen whether the federal states (on a per state basis) will issue licences for online casino games (i.e. particularly roulette, blackjack, baccarat) to private operators or will pursue a state monopoly.

At the time of writing, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia have made use of the option of opening the market to private operators as well. They have created the legal basis for this. In Schleswig-Holstein, a call for tenders has already taken place in 2022.

  • However, a licence has not yet been granted.
  • North Rhine-Westphalia is planning a call for tenders in spring/summer 2023.
  • The majority of the other federal states have so far been leaning towards state monopoly.
  • Betting : The Interstate Treaty only considers (online and retail) sports betting, i.e.
  • Fixed odds sports betting, on the outcome of sports events or parts of sports events (sec.3(1) 4 of the Interstate Treaty) to be licensable.

Bets on non-sports events (e.g. social/financial betting or secondary lotteries) are not permitted. Pool betting ( pari-mutuel ) is reserved for the state monopoly. The Regional Council has been issuing sports betting licences since November 2020. Since the Joint Gambling Authority of the federal states will be responsible for this as of 2023, it maintains a so-called “whitelist” for this purpose.

At the time of writing, the official whitelist includes 34 licensees. Slot machine gaming (amusement machines with prizes – “AWPs”) : Retail slot gaming is regulated under federal law. The Trade Regulation Act and the Gaming Ordinance provide the framework regulation and set out the requirements applicable to AWPs; the Interstate Treaty and gaming legislation at state level include further restrictions to gaming hall premises, such as the requirement for a minimum distance to be maintained between such premises.

Horse race betting : For traditional reasons, betting on horse races is regulated under federal law. The Race Betting and Lottery Act regulates organisation of betting on horse racing and taxation rules for lotteries, sports betting, virtual slot games and online poker in general.

  • The Interstate Treaty partly applies to horse race betting, including general licensing and player protection requirements.
  • Land-based betting on horse racing can be offered by the horse racing associations on race tracks or by bookmakers in retail betting shops.
  • Lottery including bingo : Only state lottery companies may apply for operating licences.

Private operators may only apply for distribution (brokering) licences, allowing them to sell lottery tickets on behalf of the state lottery companies to promote the products offered by the state lottery companies. Social/skill games : If understood as play-for-free games, they generally do not fall under the definition of games of chance and hence lack specific regulation.

  1. They may be operated without a licence, yet restrictions may apply resulting from general consumer or minor protection laws.
  2. Similarly, games will not be subject to gambling regulation if they qualify as a skill game, which is often the case in relation to e-gaming/e-sports offerings, but the character of the game will always have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Prize competitions and draws : Games where, instead of money, prizes or advantages of money’s worth can be won, again, may or may not fall under specific gambling regulation, depending on how they are set up. Generally, the provisions on lotteries apply.

However, the Sweepstakes Ordinance, created by the State Media Authorities and/or the Interstate Treaty on Broadcasting, as well as associated provisions, may also be of relevance in certain scenarios.2.1 What regulatory licences, permits, authorisations or other official approvals (collectively, “Licences”) are required for the lawful offer of the Relevant Products to persons located in your jurisdiction? It will depend on the gambling product as to whether licences are available, and which licences or other permits are required or can be applied for, for the lawful offer of the relevant products to persons located in Germany.

By product, the following licences are currently available to private operators: Casino gaming (including poker) : Licence for the operation of land-based casinos (although the majority of casinos are state-operated). Licences for operating online casino games may become available as soon as states implement tendering procedures or local monopolies for these games.

  • The timing of future licensing opportunities is not clear yet.
  • At the time of writing, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia have made use of the option of opening the market to private operators as well.
  • Online operators can further apply in Saxony-Anhalt for licences for operating virtual slot games and online poker.

The German gambling regulations do not provide for B2B licensing and, accordingly, there is no obligation on suppliers/developers to apply for such licences. Any virtual slot machine game needs to be approved by the authority and tested by a test lab accepted by the regulator.

The individual licences are to be obtained from the operator, not from the developer of the games. Sports betting : Licence for the operation and brokerage of online sports betting across Germany, and for land-based sports betting in betting shops. Sports betting licences have been issued since November 2020.

Horse race betting : Bookmaker licence under the Race Betting and Lottery Act, as well as the online horse betting licence pursuant to sec.27(2) of the Interstate Treaty. Slot machine gaming : Licence for land-based slot machine gaming (AWPs) in gaming halls or restaurants and bars as well as virtual slot game licences.

Lotteries : Licence for the brokerage of traditional state lottery products (land-based and online); licence for the operation of charitable lotteries that have their draw results published no more than twice a week, have a top prize worth less than EUR 3 million and do not have a scheduled jackpot.

The operation of traditional lottery products, such as the national lottery or other large-scale lotteries, as well as pool betting, is subject to the state monopoly. Private operators may not apply for such licences. They may only apply for a licence allowing brokerage of the state lottery products.

  1. Operating secondary lotteries is seen as illegal betting activity by German regulators and it is an enforcement priority for regulators.2.2 Where Licences are available, please outline the structure of the relevant licensing regime.
  2. There is no uniform structure for all licensing regimes in Germany.
  3. In terms of the application requirements, the licensing proceedings under the Interstate Treaty, including sports betting and virtual slot machines, generally follow the requirements set out at question 2.3 below.

The licensure of sports betting and virtual slot machines essentially consists of only two stages, i.e. the application stage, where the regulator expects a written request to be issued with a licence and complete submission of application documents, and a post-licensing stage, where the licence is to be implemented according to an implementation plan to be approved by the regulator.

In the area of virtual slot machine games, online poker games and sports betting, in addition to the operator/broker licence, a licence must be applied for each individual game/bet type offered.2.3 What is the process of applying for a Licence for a Relevant Product? Since each licensing process depends on the kind of licence an operator applies for, the regulations do not provide for a general timeline for licensing proceedings.

Any application process will, however, set out certain requirements that the applicant or the business needs to fulfil in order to qualify for a licence. These will mainly concern the applicant’s reliability and expertise, and will include examining the applicant’s financial capability.

  • Furthermore, applicants will need to demonstrate that they are willing to provide safe and transparent services and wish to comply with the gaming regulation.
  • It is a characteristic of German licensing processes that applicants will be required to prove their qualifications by submitting so-called “concepts”, i.e.

detailed descriptions of their business and related policies (including, e.g., responsible gaming, IT security, AML, business and marketing concepts). In other words, the “concepts” are the policies and guidelines of the business to be licensed.2.4 Are any restrictions placed upon licensees in your jurisdiction? Every licence is restricted with regard to its duration and requires the licensee to be, and remain, “reliable”, i.e.

  1. Ensure good business conduct is adhered to, comply with local laws and tax obligations, as well as promote personal reliability of staff.
  2. In addition, licences are often issued under conditions such as refraining from certain publicity measures.
  3. The Interstate Treaty restricts the application of the licence to the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany and countries that recognise the German licence for their sovereign territories.

It must be noted that licences are only granted to operators whose registered office is in the EU or EEA. Licences issued by states, which have no cross-state effect, will generally be limited in scope to the territory of the state in question.2.5 Please give a summary of the following features of any Licences: (i) duration; (ii) vulnerability to review, suspension or revocation.

  1. Licences for the operation of land-based casinos, issued under the Casino Acts of the different states, usually have a licence term of about 10 years, with an option to extend the term for a further five years.
  2. Licences issued under the Gaming Act of Schleswig-Holstein lasted for six years but were effectively extended by means of a transitional regulation, which could extend Schleswig-Holstein online casino licences until 31 December 2024.

However, in any case, these licences shall terminate upon the granting of a new licence under the provisions of the Interstate Treaty 2021. Sports betting licences issued under the former Interstate Treaty, originally valid until 30 June 2021, were automatically extended under the Interstate Treaty 2021 until the end of 2022 if they were valid on 30 June 2021 and the licensees complied with the changed requirements under the Interstate Treaty 2021.

These were renewable for a further five years on request in 2022. Sports betting, virtual slot machine and online poker licences under the Interstate Treaty 2021 have an initial licence term of five years. Subsequent licences shall have a licence term of seven years. Any licensee needs to comply with all the requirements during the whole period of holding the licence.

If an operator fails to comply with the licence conditions, any licence may be revoked. Licences, however, will not be revoked immediately and without prior notice. Operators will usually be contacted by the regulators and will be given a chance to comment on and review the alleged violations of the licence conditions and resolve the issues within a certain timeframe.2.6 By Relevant Product, what are the key limits on providing services to customers? Please include in this answer any material promotion and advertising restrictions.

  • Casino gaming (including poker) : Some federal states limit the number of tables and slots allowed in casinos.
  • However, there are no restrictions on pay-outs, maximum wins/losses or the duration of games.
  • Barred players may not enter the gaming area or play in casinos.
  • Strict entrance controls need to be established in order to ensure that this is the case.

These controls include matching the players with a nationwide player-barring database. Online casino licences apply on a state-by-state basis and the states have yet to decide whether to operate a state monopoly on online casino games or whether to allow licences to be issued to private operators, too.

At the time of writing, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia have made use of the option of opening the market to private operators as well. The maximum number of online casino licences per state is limited by and supposed to equal the number of bricks-and-mortar casinos in a specific state.

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“Online casino games” are defined as “virtual replications of banker games and live broadcasts of a terrestrial banker game that can be played over the internet”, which effectively means table games and live casinos. Virtual slot licences have been available since the Interstate Treaty entered into force.

Key restrictions include a EUR 1 stake limit per spin, five seconds minimum spin duration, no autoplay function and the prohibition of jackpots. The stake tax, which was introduced in parallel, forced some operators to lower the RTP. Online poker licences can be applied for with the Saxony-Anhalt regulator.

The number of tables a player can play at simultaneously is limited (up to four). Further restrictions on bets will be set out in the licence. Video poker is currently not licensable. Sports betting : Fixed odds fantasy betting is permissible under the Interstate Treaty, but (fantasy) betting involving a pool (tote) remains subject to a state monopoly.

Bets on anything other than sports are prohibited, e.g. financial or social betting. Regarding in-play betting, the situation is unclear. The Interstate Treaty prohibits some forms of in-play betting, but fails to provide a clear definition of these prohibited in-play bets. At the time of writing, there is a whitelist for permissible sports bets, including soccer, handball, tennis, automotive sports, ice hockey, darts, skiing, biathlon, bob sports, curling, ice skating and luge.

Further controversy can be expected on the question of prohibited/permissible bet types going forward. In addition, the Interstate Treaty includes a maximum monthly cross-operator deposit limit in the amount of EUR 1,000 per player to be adhered to. Exemptions might be possible up to an amount of EUR 30,000 per month under certain circumstances.

  1. The cross-operator system called “LUGAS” shall ensure that the deposit limit is complied with and that players do not log in with more than one operator at a time and are not currently barred.
  2. At the time of writing, trade associations have raised substantial legal concerns over the compliance of LUGAS with data protection laws.

In a betting shop context, restrictions to the number of permissible betting shops per licensee/area, as well as minimum distance requirements between betting shops and other gambling premises, are key restrictions. Betting shop licences can only be issued once the national sports betting licence has been issued.

Horse race betting : Operators of horse race betting have to comply with certain stake limitations, e.g. bookmakers operating on racecourses may not accept stakes of less than EUR 15 and regarding online horse race betting, a monthly deposit limit of EUR 1,000 needs to be adhered to. Slot machine gaming : Other than slot machine gaming in casinos, slot machine gaming offered on other premises such as gaming halls, restaurants or bars is subject to multiple restrictions.

These restrictions predominantly deal with the number of machines allowed (gaming halls: maximum 12, restaurants/bars: maximum two), minimum distances between gaming halls, ranging from 250m to 500m, and game restrictions (minimum/maximum stakes, pay-out ratios and duration of games).

For virtual slot games, see above. Lotteries (including tote) : Lotteries may not be operated by private operators. They are subject to the state monopoly, i.e. the 16 lottery companies that together form the State Lottery and Tote Association (Deutscher Lotto and Totoblock). Material promotion and advertising restrictions in relation to the above : Advertising of games of chance is subject to a very restrictive regime in Germany and is affected by an abundance of laws and regulations, including the Interstate Treaty, the Gaming Acts of the individual states, the Code of Practice of the German Advertising Council, the Act Against Unfair Competition and specific minor protection legislation, such as the Act for the Protection of Minors, the Interstate Treaty on Broadcasting and the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media.

In general, advertising measures must not be directed at minors or other vulnerable target groups and must not be misleading. Operators will typically be required to submit a marketing concept before advertising, which sets out how they intend to advertise their products whilst sufficiently ensuring player protection at the same time.

  1. Often, particularly in the land-based casino sector, the licences issued will specify further advertising restrictions.
  2. Any advertising of unauthorised games of chance, misleading advertising or advertising directed at minors or other risk groups is prohibited.
  3. Under the Interstate Treaty 2021, operators no longer need to obtain separate advertising permits.

New restrictions under this Interstate Treaty include a watershed between 06:00 and 21:00 hours for virtual slot games and online poker (and online casino games) as well as restrictions on affiliate advertising, including a ban on revenue share-based remuneration.

Additional guidelines are being developed by the authorities to further regulate the scope of what is permitted. For example, there is a ban on advertising by influencers that goes beyond the current scope. Further restrictions apply and will be set out in the licence or by the authority.2.7 What are the tax and other compulsory levies? A characteristic of the taxation of gambling products is that it largely depends on the product type and the regulations in the respective federal state.

Accordingly, tax rates vary considerably throughout Germany. The amended Race Betting and Lotteries Act of 2021 introduced a 5.3% tax on stakes for sports and horse race betting, virtual slot games and online poker. Since the tax is deducted from the tax base, the effective rate is 5.03%.

  • The tax is particularly high for virtual slot games and caused a dramatic drop in RTP.
  • The gambling tax has to be self-declared on a monthly basis.
  • Litigation has been initiated against these provisions.
  • The outcome of these processes cannot yet be predicted at the time of writing.
  • Land-based casino operators are exempt from corporate taxation but must generally pay taxes on gross gaming revenue (“GGR” – the amount by which the total of all stakes exceeds the total of all winnings paid out) or are subject to a combination of GGR and profit taxation.

Tax rates range between 20% and 80% per state. Some states impose additional levies or apply progressive tax rates depending on the economic capability of the casino operator. In addition to regular corporate taxes, offline slot machine operators have to pay municipal amusement tax.

  • Depending on the law of the respective municipality, slot machine operators are subject to a 12%–20% amusement tax, which is based on the GGR generated from the slot machines.
  • Betting shop owners may be subject to betting shop taxes of up to 3% on stakes.
  • Municipalities are authorised to introduce such taxes on a local basis.

Betting shop taxes apply independently from the federal sports betting tax.2.8 What are the broad social responsibility requirements? Preventing gambling addiction and criminal acts, channelling players into the regulated market and away from the black markets as well as ensuring the integrity of sports are key objectives of the Interstate Treaty.

Consequently, numerous requirements linked to social responsibility apply, such as the qualification and reliability of the operators being prerequisites for acquiring a licence. These requirements essentially focus on the protection of players and minors and the safety of gambling operations. Safety is, in this context, defined as: offering safe payment and transaction methods; adhering to youth, customer and data protection laws; keeping AML and IT standards; and being reliable in paying taxes and levies.

Gambling operators are required to prepare a so-called “social concept” to demonstrate their policy and approach towards the protection of players and minors and intended measures in order to reach these goals. Operators need to be familiar with the impact of games of chance, and the inherent risk of addiction, and show this in their social concepts.

  1. Staff need to be continuously trained and vetted on detecting problematic gambling behaviour and on the responsible operation, execution and commercial brokerage of public games of chance.
  2. Responsible gambling also means ensuring that minors and barred players do not participate in gambling activities.

Key requirements to ensure protection of minors and individuals susceptible to problem gambling are checking the players’ ID, age verification and matching them against the public player-barring database (referred to as “OASIS”). Interacting with OASIS is mandatory for any licenced operator (with the exception of lotteries).

  • Easily accessible information about self-exclusion via OASIS, and the possibility of taking gaming breaks, mandatory breaks during online gaming every hour and at least for five minutes when playing virtual slot games has to be provided by the operator.
  • Players should be encouraged to assess their own gambling activities by reality checks and self-tests, need to be able to set their own deposit, stake or loss limits (the monthly deposit limit is mandatory under the Interstate Treaty) and need to be made aware of the risk of addiction through brochures or responsible gaming websites.

Gambling operators are required to offer information on where players may seek help, such as contact details of support services (counselling and therapy).2.9 How do any AML, financial services regulations or payment restrictions restrict or impact on entities supplying gambling? Does your jurisdiction permit virtual currencies to be used for gambling and are they separately regulated? In implementing the Fourth Anti-Money-Laundering Directive (“4AMLD”), Germany introduced a new AML Act, which entered into force on 26 June 2017 and was amended with effect as of 1 January 2020.

As expected in the course of the implementation of the 4AMLD, AML obligations have been extended to more land-based operations. Before the new AML Act entered into force, only casinos were subject to certain AML obligations if transactions exceeded a threshold of EUR 2,000 in the land-based sector; now, sports betting retail outlets are equally affected.

In an online gambling environment, if operators are not licenced in Germany, are based in the EU and do not have a local presence in Germany but do target German customers, the applicability of the AML Act can be questioned. German regulators have, however, made it very clear that they consider the AML Act to be applicable and that they are going to enforce German AML requirements, and the Implementation Guidelines, on how to implement the AML Act in the gambling sector, which were published in November 2020.

  • Consequently, online gaming operators serving German customers are advised to adopt appropriate and extensive risk management systems and to familiarise themselves with the extensive requirements.
  • The German AML Act is particularly strict on customer due diligence (“KYC”) and on gambling-related payment transactions.

In terms of KYC, it is mandatory for players in online gambling to be identified and verified upon registration – the EUR 2,000 threshold does not apply regarding online gambling. Anonymous payment methods, including cash vouchers, are banned in online gambling-related transactions.

Multi-accounting is prohibited, which means that each customer must only be provided with a single account. A key transparency requirement to payments is payment verification, i.e. the operator is obliged to establish that the player is the actual owner of the payment method. The Implementation Guidelines suggest that a simple check on the side of the operator will not suffice but that the Payment Service Provider (“PSP”) has to be involved in payment verification.2.10 What (if any) restrictions were placed during the COVID-19 pandemic? Are they still in force? No specific restrictions were imposed on the gambling sector during the COVID-19 pandemic – however, during the periods of lockdown, land-based gambling premises had to be closed in line with general public health requirements imposed on retail businesses.

Online gambling operations were able to operate unimpeded by such restrictions.3.1 How does local law/regulation affect the provision of the Relevant Products in online/mobile/digital/electronic form, both from: (i) operators located inside your jurisdiction; and (ii) operators located outside your jurisdiction? There is no difference in the regulation between operators located inside Germany and those located outside.

If they operate in Germany, and hence offer products on the German market, the Interstate Treaty applies irrespective of where the operator is based.3.2 What other restrictions have an impact on Relevant Products supplied via online/mobile/digital/electronic means? Operators who would like to advertise need to submit a marketing concept to the authority as well as advertising samples beforehand.3.3 What terminal/machine-based gaming is permitted and where? Machine-based gaming is only permitted in land-based casinos, restaurants, bars and gaming halls and requires a licence.

Slot machines in gaming halls and restaurants are regulated under federal law – the Trade Regulation Act and the Gaming Ordinance. The Gaming Ordinance allows for a maximum of two machines to be operated in restaurants and bars, and a maximum of 12 machines per gaming hall.

It further imposes gaming limits (maximum stakes, maximum losses, etc.). Machine gaming is also subject to the Interstate Treaty and the respective state laws. The Interstate Treaty allows the states to define a minimum distance that needs to be maintained between other gaming halls and/or between gaming halls and youth facilities/addiction centres.

None of the above restrictions apply to machine gaming in land-based casinos.4.1 Who is liable under local law/regulation? In principle, the operator is liable for breaches of gambling regulations, but liability may also extend to advertising partners and PSPs.4.2 What form does enforcement action take in your jurisdiction? Unauthorised operations and distributions, as well as advertising for unauthorised games, may be interdicted based on the Interstate Treaty on pain of a fine.

Penalties range between approximately EUR 10,000 and EUR 50,000 per circumvention, depending on the administrative enforcement laws of the German state in question. If a violation of regulatory requirements amounts to an administrative offence, the Interstate Treaty allows fines of up to EUR 500,000 per circumvention, or the skimming of profits obtained through the violation.

In addition, the AML Act provides for very high fines of up to EUR 1 million or twice the economic benefit of the violation (see sec.56 of the AML Act), depending on the gravity of the AML violation. The Interstate Treaty 2021 also introduced payment and IP blocking as an enforcement tool.

  1. Furthermore, competitors may attempt to file for cease-and-desist orders with civil law courts, because the prohibition of unauthorised organisation and distribution of games of chance falls under the scope of the Unfair Competition Act.
  2. These orders are usually on pain of a fine amounting to approximately EUR 250,000 per contravention.

There is also a risk of player claims. Beyond administrative/regulatory enforcement, the German Criminal Code penalises organising or distributing unauthorised games of chance. Criminal liability under the Criminal Code only pertains to individuals and not to legal entities, albeit they may still be subject to fines.4.3 Do other non-national laws impact upon liability and enforcement? First and foremost, liability and enforcement are clearly subject to German law and the German authorities.

However, being part of the European Union, German law is, of course, influenced by European law and European case law. This impacts on the understanding and interpretation of the law, and thereby may also affect enforcement, or at least the authorities’ attitude towards liability and enforcement.4.4 Are gambling debts enforceable in your jurisdiction? As per sec.762(1) 1 of the German Civil Code, gambling debts are not enforceable but are regarded as “debts of honour”.

However, due to sec.762(1) 2 of the German Civil Code, gambling debts that are settled cannot be reclaimed once paid, unless the player can convince the court that they were incapable due to gambling addiction or if the operator acted illegally. A further exception applies due to sec.763 of the German Civil Code, as it provides that contracts made in connection with state-approved lotteries or raffles are binding and, hence, enforceable.

The same arguably applies to debts from a licenced operation once the licence has been granted.4.5 What appetite for and track record of enforcement does your local regulatory authority have? Have fines, licence revocations or other sanctions been enforced in your jurisdiction? Enforcement has, by and large, been limited to administrative/regulatory enforcement.

Other German enforcement authorities, in particular German prosecutors, have been reluctant to enforce gambling law violations; one likely explanation for this may be that German gambling regulation has been characterised by legal uncertainty due to it facing severe criticism in light of EU law for years now.

  1. An area where enforcement efforts have been stepped up, and this has been noticeable, is payment blocking.
  2. The centrally responsible regulator for payment blocking issued its first interdiction letter against a PSP in June 2019 and a second in May 2020.
  3. Enforcement against providers unwilling to apply for a licence is likely to increase, given that the Interstate Treaty provides for licences and operators are actually able to obtain a licence.

At the time of writing, the Saxony-Anhalt regulator has handled more than 100 cases in connection with unauthorised games of chance. In addition, it was announced that a “focus prosecutor’s office” for enforcement against illegal games of chance will be established.5.1 What (if any) intended changes to the gambling law/regulations are being discussed currently? With the entry into force of the Interstate Treaty on 1 July 2021, numerous practical questions have arisen.

Although the Saxony-Anhalt regulator started to work on licensing proceedings for virtual slot games and online poker, the start of the process has been notably slow. It is unclear when licences may be expected to be issued. The new LUGAS databases are becoming available, but initial difficulties may be expected.

Regulators have yet to explain how they intend to tackle the concerns over the databases with regard to the superseding data protection requirements under the GDPR. In addition, many questions arise in relation to the very restrictive handling of the types of bets permitted in sports betting.

Furthermore, the new gambling tax will raise questions of interpretation, e.g., regarding the tax treatment of bonuses. Finally, there is significant discussion about the success of channelling legal gambling, as intense restrictions and taxation make it particularly problematic for legal operators to compete with the black market.

: Gambling Laws and Regulations Report 2023 Germany
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Is poker popular in Germany?

Poker is quite a popular game among Germans, which makes it quite interesting that the game–and most every type of gambling–continues to be illegal in the country. While there is little in the way of active law enforcement aimed at curtailing the gambling industry, the murky legal area in which non-casino card rooms continue to operate undoubtedly hinders the potential of the game to develop beyond its present state.

  1. But there is some hope on the horizon, as legislation seems to be moving toward a more tolerant policy with regard to gambling.
  2. And for the estimated quarter of a million live poker players in the country, this development will surely prove to be a welcome one.
  3. Considering that some of the top poker players in the world are German, it is somewhat surprising to note that the game isn’t exactly more accessible in the country.

There are less than 20 poker rooms spread out across the country, with most of them having only a few poker tables. Even with 76 casinos all over the country, opportunities to play poker seem few and far between.
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Are there gambling casinos in Germany?

Gambling at casinos in Germany – Most German casinos offer classic table games, from Roulette to blackjack, baccarat and punto banco. Of course, they also have plenty of slots. German casinos are primarily gambling venues, Don’t go expecting shows or any of the entertainment you’d expect somewhere like Las Vegas.
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Is gambling tax free in Germany?

What is the Racing Bets and Lotteries Act (Rennwett- und Lotteriegesetz)? This act was passed by the German legislator and came into force on 01.07.2012. This act subjects all sports bets (offline and online) to taxation at a rate of 5% of the stake wagered, which must be paid to the financial authorities.
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Do you pay tax on gambling in Germany?

All questions Legal and regulatory framework i Legislation and jurisprudence As explained in Section I.i, the basic legal framework for gambling in Germany is the Interstate Treaty 2021, which was introduced on 1 July 2021 and marks the fourth attempt of the German states to create uniform and EU-law-compliant gambling regulation.

  • The first amendment of the Interstate Treaty took place in 2012 following a legislative process that had to be initiated as a result of the CJEU finding that the state monopoly on sports betting that was provided for in the Interstate Treaty of 2008 contravened EU law.
  • The Interstate Treaty has been subject to criticism from the time it entered into force, and the failure of the sports betting licensing process, which was introduced by the Interstate Treaty and confirmed by national courts and most prominently by the CJEU in the Ince case to be unlawful, finally triggered the reforms that led to the Third Amendment of the Interstate Treaty.

Since its entry into force on 1 January 2020, the regulator responsible for the licensing process for sports betting, the Regional Council of Darmstadt, has urged the industry to participate in the process notwithstanding a variety of open issues, including an open letter urging all operators to apply.

In spring 2020, the German federal states agreed on the Fourth Amendment of the Interstate Treaty on Gambling, which entered into force on 1 July 2021. Since 15 October 2020, a transitional regime has also been in place for already active virtual slot and online poker operators. The new legislation broadened the extent of permissible sports betting and introduced licensing of virtual slot games, online poker and online casino games, although the latter is expected to remain predominantly subject to a state monopoly.

Alongside the Interstate Treaty, gambling law is regulated by other state legislation, for example, the Gambling Acts implementing the Interstate Treaty, Casino Acts and ordinances. For historic or general reasons, some federal laws also influence gambling, such as the Race Betting and Lottery Act, the Trade Regulation Act, the Criminal Code and the Fiscal Code.

ii The regulator The responsibility for regulating gambling is vested in regulators at state and municipal level. The responsibilities range from individual municipalities acting as regulators (e.g., in the land-based gaming hall sector) to the state ministries (or their subordinate authorities) that are responsible for bricks-and-mortar casinos, coordinating enforcement actions against suspected unlawful gambling operators or violations of the Interstate Treaty and the applicable state Gambling Acts.

Further, some authorities have been appointed by all states to act with central responsibility for a certain sector. While the Regional Council of Darmstadt in the state of Hesse is responsible for conducting the sports betting licensing process in Germany, the State Administration Office of Saxony-Anhalt is in charge of the virtual slot machine and online poker licensing process.

  • Both authorities will lose their competency on 31 December 2022.
  • After this date, the competency will switch to the Joint Gambling Supervisory Authority in Halle.
  • Iii Remote and land-based gambling The Interstate Treaty allows the licensed operation and brokering of online gambling.
  • As outlined above, only online casino games (i.e., online versions and live broadcasts of bank–holder games) are still subject to a state monopoly, whereas virtual slot machine games and online poker are licensable on a national level but subject to substantial product restrictions, such as limits on stakes per spin, minimum duration of each spin and the number of poker tables allowed for simultaneous play.

In contrast to online gambling, land-based gambling is subject to a variety of licensing systems on state and municipal level, including bricks-and-mortar casinos, gaming halls, betting shops and lottery agents. iv Land-based gambling Land-based gambling is only permissible in certain venues.

  • Details will either be stipulated in the law, detailed in the application requirements or form part of the licence.
  • The operation of casinos in some states is reserved for the public authorities, while other states provide a limited number of licences for private operators.
  • The number of casinos allowed per state will, however, always be limited and varies between the states.

In Baden-Württemberg, for example, three land-based casinos are allowed, whereas in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania six casino locations are provided for in the respective Casino Act. This also affects the number of online casino licences available in the respective state, provided that the state wants to grant these licences to private operators at all.

The Interstate Treaty does not provide a maximum number of sports betting, virtual slot machine or online poker licences. It has yet to be determined how this will impact the limitations on the number of permissible betting shops per operator that are set out in the current state Gambling Acts or other acts transposing the Interstate Treaty, which vary considerably depending on the state in question.

The limitations on the number of permissible betting shops have been criticised for having been arbitrarily determined. With regard to gaming halls, the regulations do not stipulate a statutory limit on the number of available licences, but this sector is undergoing some major changes.

The strict minimum distance requirements that gaming halls must adhere to (i.e., between gaming halls and between gaming halls and institutions such as schools or addiction centres) and the requirement that gaming halls may not be operated in the same building as land-based casinos or betting shops, effectively limit the number of available gaming hall venues in practice.

v Remote gambling In principle, the Interstate Treaty imposes a general ban on online gambling. Exceptions only apply for licensed traditional lotteries, horse racing, sports betting, virtual slot machine games, online poker and to a limited extent online casino games.

  1. Former iterations of the Interstate Treaty did not provide a licensing system for online gaming (with the exception of sports betting).
  2. This situation had been criticised by experts of the industry as well as the European Commission.
  3. In a pilot process initiated in 2015, the European Commission made clear that it considered the ban ineffective in achieving the goals set out by the Interstate Treaty.

However, in December 2017, the European Commission announced that, as a general policy regarding the gambling sector, it would close all pending infringement procedures and complaints. In parallel, the Federal Administrative Court confirmed in a precedent judgment on 26 October 2017 that it considered the restrictions to online gambling under the former Interstate Treaty to comply with EU and constitutional law.6 These developments weakened the legal position of operators of online gaming in Germany that used to rely on the freedom of services to justify operating in the unregulated market.

Foreign licences are generally not recognised by German regulators and courts. The Interstate Treaty 2021 changed this fundamentally and finally introduced licences for virtual slot machine games, online poker and online casino games. ‘Virtual slot machine games’ are defined as replicas of terrestrial slot machine games.

Limitations include the maximum €1 stake amount per spin and the five second minimum duration per spin. Among the restrictions specific to virtual slot machine games, the prohibition of jackpots (i.e., stakes or winnings may not be accumulated for the purpose of creating winnings for future games) and of autoplay functionality are to be mentioned.

Online poker is also restricted, including the prohibition of video poker, restrictions on the number of tables to be played at the same time (i.e., a maximum of four) and limitations on stakes and blinds. ‘Online casino games’ are defined as virtual versions of bank–holder games and live broadcasts of a terrestrial banker game.

These restrictions specifically address roulette, blackjack and baccarat and subject them to a state monopoly. Whether or not individual states will consider opting for issuing licences to private operators in this market remains to be seen. However, the first states to regulate have already passed bills that include licensing regimes for these games.

vi Ancillary matters As part of the licensing process, operators applying for a licence will have to prove that any equipment used has been approved in accordance with the applicable technical requirements and IT security standards. Certificates or other documents on their business-to-business (B2B) partners are usually expected by regulators.

While the provisions on the licensing proceedings under the Interstate Treaty 2021 do not stipulate a specific licensing process for gambling-related B2B services, it is required by law that each virtual slot machine game and online poker game must be approved by the regulator in Saxony-Anhalt.

Due to the large number of games, the authority will only review the essential characteristics and compliance with the crucial restrictions. In relation to individuals acting in key positions, it has to be demonstrated in the licensing process that these persons are sufficiently qualified and have the necessary expertise to conduct the business reliably and responsibly.

Typical requirements include criminal record checks, tax clearance certificates, CVs and evidence of professional expertise, including training certificates. Beyond those requirements, there is no specific licensing process (e.g., for personal licences) that employees of gambling operators would have to undergo.

Vii Financial payment mechanisms According to the German Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) Act, before a transaction is carried out, it has to be verified that the payment account is set up in the name of the player and must be with a bank, payment institution or electronic money institution licensed in the EU.

This was also reconfirmed in the Implementation Guidelines regarding the implementation of the German AML Act in the gambling sector (the Implementation Guidelines), which were published on 1 February 2019 and updated again in November 2020 by the highest gaming supervisory authorities of the German states.

The use of anonymous payment methods is not permitted. The same requirements would apply for the use of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin; however, gambling regulators have not approved bitcoin as means of payment in a licensed environment yet. Considering that the Gambling Committee of German regulators (i.e., the regulatory body that makes key decisions on issuing licences and licence conditions) tends to take a more conservative approach and has not swiftly adapted to new trends in the online gambling sector as yet, it seems unlikely that this would be permitted in the near future.

Taxation The type of taxes imposed on gambling operators heavily depends on the gambling product in question and to what extent state legislation will be of relevance. The land-based casino sector acts as a good example in this context. Land-based casino operations are subject to gross gaming revenue-based taxation, where tax rates range between 20 per cent and 80 per cent depending on the respective federal state.

Additional levies may be imposed or progressive tax rates that depend on the economic capability of the casino operator will be applied. Similarly affected by state legislation, slot machine operators are subject to municipal amusement taxes (tax rates vary from 12 to 20 per cent and the tax will be based on the gross income generated from the slot machines) that they have to pay in addition to regular corporate tax.

Other gambling offerings are subject to federal taxes. On 1 July 2021, an amendment of the Race Betting and Lottery Act entered into force. Uniform taxes must be paid for virtual slot games, online poker and sports betting. A tax of 5.3 per cent is levied on player stakes.

  1. As the included tax is factored out of the tax base, the effective tax rate on the whole payment of the player is 5.03 per cent.
  2. The new tax rate is harshly criticised by the industry bodies, as it renders operating these games commercially challenging and contravenes the objective of the Interstate Treaty 2021 to channel players from the unregulated online gaming market into the licensing regime under the Interstate Treaty 2021.

While sports betting, virtual slot games, online poker and lotteries are exempt from VAT so that a one-off taxation in Germany is ensured, online casino games will remain subject to VAT. In summary, any operator offering licensed or unlicensed online gambling products is subject to taxation.
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Does VPN work for poker?

Can I use a VPN to play online poker? – Yes, you can use a VPN to play online poker, A VPN will change your IP address and let you bypass geo-blocks as well as ensure your online security. Just be aware that using a VPN might be against poker website’s Terms of Use and your account might get suspended.
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Where can I play poker tournaments?

The best online poker tournaments are usually found at the largest internet poker rooms. Our top three sites for poker tournaments are all amongst the ten largest poker sites in the world. Our three top sites for tournaments are PokerStars, William Hill Poker, and 888 Poker.

  1. In this page we will describe what we do and don’t like about the poker tournaments offered by these three sites.
  2. This should help you to make a better informed decision on where you choose to play online poker tournaments,
  3. You can follow our links in the table on this page to play at any of these online poker sites, and you can claim an exclusive bonus at each of the three poker sites.

If you would like to enter free tournaments that have cash prizes, please read more about our poker freerolls here. PokerStars is the largest poker site in the world, and by a pretty wide margin. They are more than five times larger than William Hill Poker, who is listed second on our list of poker sites with the best tournaments.
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